Here are some go-to lines to get you out of Snoozeville when you're chatting up the neighbor's best man's cousin.
By Sam Grittner / in Writing / May 5, 2014
Recently I've been getting a fair amount of messages asking for advice about comedy, which I find rather ironic because I don't think of myself as successful. I've had the privilege of performing stand-up for over a decade. Some "big names" follow me on the Twitter.com. But I've never written for television or toured nationally. I've come to the realization that the reasons that my definition of success has eluded me are the best advice I can give to younger versions of me out there. Please know that I constantly contradict most everything I'm about to list and that I'm aware of that, thanks in advance.
1. Write every day. If something happens in real life and it's funny, deconstruct why that is. Listen to and watch all sorts of comedy.
2. Don't post more than 3-5 times a day on Twitter and try and space them out by hours.
3. Don't let Twitter define you or trap you and your writing, use it to test ideas or get inspired but be aware you can spend hours that turn into days that turn into months and so on. Do you want to be published in a magazine or known as a "twitter comic?" There's absolutely no shame in the latter but I have higher aspirations always.
4. Write long form! Do it early and do it often. Make it a part of your writing routine. When you get to the stage of submitting packets for tv shows, the expectations from most of them is not just constant hilarity, it's versatility. Can you write one-liners? That's great! There are 3,000 people right behind you that can do that too. Wait? You can write sketches or you have pieces published on your blog or CollegeHumor, Funny or DIE, McSweeney's, etc? You have a background in improv too? If you have all those notches in your belt, you just jumped on a trampoline with a jetpack and now you're at the top of the heap! You're a verified triple-threat, GO GRRL!!!!!!!!
5. Wait. Chill. In fact, stop and breathe. Do that often. Not just because it kinda sorta keeps you alive but because a lot of people experience success at the beginning stages and you see them change. I had it happen to me. There were three months of my life that I thought I was a big deal. In retrospect, that's one of the saddest statements I've had to make to but I'll take ownership and air my dirty laundry in the hopes that someone out there might take one piece of this and save themselves a month, a year? of wasted time. I'm not a big deal because NO ONE IS. It took me too long to know this.
6. Aside from not getting a big head, I'm not here to preach about drugs and alcohol and tell anyone what to do. I know me: I know that if I have one sip it turns into me shutting down the bar in Brooklyn and waking up in Tijuana selling "asthma medication" to make it back to the states. For real. If you have a compulsion, get that shit in check. We all do but for too long I subscribed to a macabre view of life and always felt sorry (just for myself, of course) and retreated into drugs and alcohol and it's a vicious cycle and a record you can listen to until you die alone in a sad gutter. OR! You can stay active in your hobbies and remember there's more to life than comedy. Not much. Family, friends, food, fluids. But that other stuff us is what makes the greatest comedy happen. The funniest parts of my act or my writing our when I'm telling a story, the way only I can tell it but it's real. That's always where the best stuff comes from. That and tigers.
7. Don't hate on people. Just don't. Are you kidding me. You're too busy to get in fights online.
8. If a "big name" follows you on Twitter, that's awesome! Be forewarned, they might unfollow you! That happens all the time and then you humble-bragging on the Facebook and Instagram looks even grosser than it did before. Yikes! It is hard to sit on it but learning the value of spending three hours working on a sketch or a script, versus writing ten tweets, having a "big name" follow you, and you kick your feet up and feel like you've earned being done for the day is the secret to real, tangible success. All this is to say, Twitter is great! It's amazing! I love it and hate it. It's a fun, bizarre spectrum of emotions at this point but in totality my time could have been spent so much more efficiently in the past five years. Once again, I hope all you awesome young writers who have asked me for advice really look at the previous sentence. That about sums it up.
In conclusion, I have no idea what I'm doing. These are just some thoughts that have been floating in my head for a while now and instead of being quiet, I'm putting this out there and hoping it helps in some small way.
Oh! and be nice! Any and of all my success has to do with a combination of good-great(?) writing and always being polite and respectful to not only my peers but older people and young people. Conversely, every time I thought I was better than someone in comedy or life, the world and karma emptied a bucket of crocodile innards all over me to remind me that being a dick is what losers do.
KEEP WRITING! KEEP SMILING! BE WEIRD! BE ORIGINAL! BE NICE!
SHIT! Two last things about Twitter:
1. If someone unfollows you, don't take it personally. Always be the bigger person. It's a weird dance and if they don't come around, so what? But don't bad mouth them just because they stopped following you ON A WEBSITE where cronuts and dead spokespeople are trending topics. You will probably run into them in real life sometime and guess what, if they're still a dick you can feel superior for being the bigger the person and sometimes, they're really nice and you end up being friends and talk often (this has happened to me).
2. If people are unfollowing you, don't blame them. I did this so much! Great jokes always rise to the top, that's why Twitter is great. Maybe don't post 14 tweets in an hour, instead write one REALLY good one a day while you're working on your long-term project(s). Sure sometimes, people have bad taste but it almost always comes down to lazy writing, in my opinion. Stop doing the same formats. Change it up. More bees.
FOLLOW SAM GRITTNER ON GEOCITIES
LET'S GET YOU HIRED: How to Nail a Job Interview
You've been unemployed for weeks. You ate your last pair of socks and the electricity has been turned off in the shed you've been staying in. BUT! Somehow you scored a sweet job interview down at the local, prestigious office of business!
Let's be honest: this might be your last chance. You might lose the shed. No need to fear or get a horrendous haircut to try and forestall paralysis, I've compiled the best tips and tricks that you can use to dazzle and impress the shit out of your new employer. I've broken it down into five different sections, so you ADD types can read one then come back and do another in three hours.
Congrats ahead of time and don't steal supplies until you're at least three months deep!
SHOWING UP ON TIME
Being punctual does a number of things simultaneously: it shows you know what time is and how it functions, it proves you probably own a watch or have access to a functioning microwave and will be able to show up on time on a regular basis, you're also not busy selling imitation panther skulls online after you've specifically been banned from doing so.
Clothes are important! If you show up to naked, it might be considered a power move and you could end up taking over the company within a matter of minutes but more likely than not it will be misconstrued as you being too lazy to get dressed or worse: proud of the body that you were born with. Men aren't from Mars and women certainly have never been to space let alone Venus! But the genders do have differences in dress when it comes to the interview process.
Dress provocatively. You need to assert your dominance early. The preferred outfit is a power suit with a v-neck shirt that shows your chest tattoo that reads "I ATE YOUR MOTHER." Have at least three beards and a gun. Have a sign taped to the back of your shirt with the number of bears that you killed in the past week on it. Don't shower. Your musk is one of your most powerful incentives. Own a snake? Wear it. Own a falcon? Bring it. Cargo shorts show that your have "plenty of room" to improve. If you have to wear pants, make sure they have at least two dragons bedazzled on them. Wear your watch or microwave to show them you "know what time it is/can reheat their soup."
Dress smart! You're beautiful and intelligent so flaunt them both. Shave your hair so they can see just how big your brain is. When it comes to outfits you have a number of options: a smart vest and capris or full camouflage. The former shows your top is as intelligent as you and the pants show you really do have ankles. The latter shows that you are so comfortable with yourself that not only do you not try to stand out, you try to blend into your surroundings a little too much. Always wear boots or Chuck Taylors. If possible, wear a bra that's been blessed. Wear your eyebrows, not a friends. No lipstick or jewelry, shiny things distract people. A cape is never not a good idea.
A lot of people get intimidated by resumes, not you! Why? Because you know THE SECRET! You don't? You're about to: interviewers can't read. Not one of them. Numbers yes but not letters. It's a deep, dark secret that only 500 people on a chat forum I visit know. And now you do too. That means that you went to Harvard, majored in Dopeology and your last three jobs were at McKinsey, Red Lobster, and as a youth pastor, respectively. Write anything. Seriously. Just have numbers that make sense and you're good to go!
Most interviews will stop twice. Once to ask if you need to go pee-pee and again to ask you "off book," if you have any "special skills." You do and if you don't, you just need to look deep inside yourself to discover what they are. Or you can just memorize some of the ones below:
- I eat bees hella good
- I can cry on command
- I always conquer my nemesis, even if they're sitting across from me right now
- I've never been fired from a job that I didn't deserve to be fired from
- I have access to a watch and/or microwave
- I found Osama
- I'm Bansky
- I'm Gwyneth Paltrow
- I have Steve Jobs' cellphone number and you can leave a message on it if you hire me
SECRETS TO NAILING IT
You showed up on time. You dressed smart. You have a piece of paper with gibberish and numbers. You've memorized your special skills. You did it! Not so fast, buckaroo. Before you leave the room and go back to your shed you still have a chance to put icing on the cake and seal the deal. Ready to glue gun this coffin shut? Just a few more tips:
- Give your interviewer a fun nickname as soon as you meet them (such as: Big Teeth, Weird Smile, or Molar Dog)
- When making eye contact, never blink (it shows weakness)
- Come in with a parrot. Have the parrot answer all the questions for you
- Compliment the interviewer on their skin or give them a bag of yours
- Apologize for your smell but don't use words
- Take a baby out of your backpack and start feeding it halfway through the interview. Never mention it
- Ride a tiger in and an elephant out